The Great Saturday Morning Experience

What might you have been watching on Saturday morning in 1974?

The 1974-1975 season brought us some really great new shows, a few of which would go on to be quite memorable.  I’ll give a brief description of what was on but you can count on more in depth discussions in future blogs.  If a show has been on for a few seasons you can find a lengthier description when that show’s premier year is covered.

Note: Due to overlapping information on some shows as well as possible differences between affiliate programming, and mid-season lineup changes, your exact schedule may differ in some ways. I try to make them as accurate as possible for the general national audiences.

ABC starts us off. You’ll notice by this time there’s a lot less local programming as Saturday morning programming for kids was really kicking in high gear by the mid-1970s.

Yogi’s Gang/Hong Kong Fooey/New Adventures of Gilligan/Devlin/Korg 70,000 B.C./Super Friends

8:00 – Yogi’s Gang
Yogi Bear and his friends were back in another season (all reruns from the first season) flying around in their ark learning valuable lessons along the way.

8:30 – Bugs Bunny
Another collection of repackaged Bugs Bunny cartoons with other Warner Brothers characters.

9:00 – Hong Kong Phooey
Our first new show on the list is from Hanna-Barbera. The title character, memorably voiced by Scatman Crothers, is a mild mannered janitor at the police station until a colorful collection of villains start up their criminal mischief and then he changes into a kung fu crime fighter with a shapeshifting car and a cat named Spot as his sidekick. Kung Fu was a very popular theme that year.

9:30 – New Adventures of Gilligan
Filmation got the rights to the Sherwood Schwartz classic sitcom and as the title suggests, brought the seven castaways some new adventures on their island.  This time around they have a monkey friend named Stubby joining the fun. The entire cast from the original show, minus Tina Louise who wanted to distance herself from the show, and Dawn Wells, who had other engagements, reprised their roles.

10:00 – Devlin
Capitalizing on the fame of Evel Kneivel, Hanna-Barbera put together this new show about a traveling family of teenage circus performers, who in the spirit of all Scooby-Doo knock offs, also happen to solve mysteries.

10:30 – Korg, 70,000 B.C.
Hanna-Barbera didn’t delve into live action as much as other companies but they had their share. This new show featured a family of Neanderthals doing whatever it was Neanderthal families did during the Ice Age. The show starred Jim Malinda, Bill Ewing, and Naomi Newman.

11:00 – Super Friends
Reruns from the original 16 episodes of the series which was actually cancelled but then revived with some noticeable changes.

12:00 – These are the Days
Thanks to the success of the Waltons, Hanna-Barbera tried out this new show featuring a family around the turn of the century whose surname was Day. This was one of those “serious” cartoons with lessons learned and no slapstick comedy. The real lesson learned might have been that kids didn’t really care for that sort of entertainment as it, Korg, and Devlin, were all ratings disasters and no more of any of these three shows were made.

And now CBS:

Partridge Family 2200 A.D./Valley of the Dinosaurs/Shazam!/Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine/Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show/U.S. of Archie

8:00 – Speed Buggy
A second year of the show featuring reruns of the lively dune buggy and his friends.

8:30 – Scooby Doo, Where Are You?
Reruns of the classic show from 1969

9:00 – Jeannie
A second year of the show featuring reruns of the kid friendly animated version of “I Dream of Jeannie”.

9:30 – Partridge Family 2200 AD
This new Hanna-Barbera show basically fuses together the Partridge Family and the Jetsons. The three youngest Partridges are the same actors from the sitcom.  Besides all the characters from the original show they add a Martian named Marion and a Ventutian named Veenie as friends of Keith and Laurie while Danny gets a robotic dog named Orbit.

10:00 – Valley of the Dinosaurs
Another new animated Hanna-Barbera show where a professor , his wife, teenage daughter , young son, and dog, all get swept into a whirlpool and end up in a mysterious world where prehistoric humans coexist with dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures. Despite only one season of episodes this series had a later run in syndication.

10:30 – Shazam!
Filmation hit it big with its first foray into live action with this show based on the original Captain Marvel from Fawcett comics. Gone from the comics were the entire Marvel Family and the old wizard Shazam, replaced by a mentor named Mentor, and the elders respectively. Billy Batson in this version is a teenager played by Tiger Beat cover boy Michael Gray who travels the world in a Winnebago (or the Shazambago as so many of us referred to it) with Mentor played by Les Tremayne. Whenever there’s trouble the elders call him and Billy converses with animated versions of Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury. When Billy yells Shazam he is transformed into Jackson Bostwick, er, Captain Marvel. Well Jackson Bostwick for this first season anyway. Powers are used (sort of), the day is saved, and a moral is learned with each episode.

11:00 – Harlem Globetrotters/Popcorn Machine
Variety shows were so popular in the 1970s they even made them for kids. This new show featured some of the more famous Globetrotters of this time such as Meadowlark Lemon, Curly Neal, Geese Ausbie, and Marques Haynes. As with all variety shows there was singing, dancing, and comedy sketches. Avery Schreiber played a character called Mr. Evil and Rodney Allen Rippy appeared as himself.

11:30 – Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show
Another brand new variety show starred Bill, Mark, and Brett, together known as the Hudson Brothers. The Hudson Brothers were a musical act that became teen idols of sorts after appearing on The Sonny & Cher Show. CBS gave them their own summer replacement show on primetime and then this Saturday morning show followed.  Besides the music and comedy sketches from the brothers, the show also included regular appearances by Rod Hull and his Emu, Murray Langston (better known as the Unknown Comic) and Billy Van, who would be more famous for his many roles in “The Hilarious House of Frightenstein”.

12:00 – U.S. of Archie
Filmation obviously had success with the Archie gang since they used them in multiple shows through the years. In this new show, Archie and the gang would find out that their ancestors (who looked exactly like them in typical cartoon fashion) were involved in famous historical events. The series then was basically the Archies acting out famous events in American history like the writing of the national anthem, women getting the right to vote, the first airplane flight, and the gold rush.

12:30 – Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids
The fourth season of the hit Filmation Show loosely based on the childhood of host, Bill Cosby.

1:00 – The CBS Children’s Film Festival
The second year of Kukla, Fran, and Ollie hosting children’s films from around the world.

And lastly, NBC:

Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch/Emergency +4/Run Joe Run/Sigmund and the Sea Monsters/Land of the Lost

8:00 – Addams Family
The second season (mostly reruns as the case with most Saturday morning cartoons) of Hanna-Barbera’s version of the famous Charles Addams characters.

8:30 – Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch
This new cartoon from Hanna-Barbera rides the coattails of the success from Speed Buggy. The main characters are anthropomorphic vehicles. Wheelie is a little red car resembling a VW Bug. He only speaks in sound effects while the other characters actually have voices. His girlfriend, Rota Ree is voiced by Judy Strangis, better known to us Saturday morning viewers as Dynagirl. They are constantly being bothered by the Chopper Bunch who are a motorcycle gang all with very familiar voices. Chopper (Frank Welker), Revs (Paul Winchell), Hi-Riser (Lennie Weinrib), and Scrambles (Don Messick) make up the gang. Paul Winchell also voices a police cruiser named Captain Tuff and Don Messick does the voice for Deputy Fishtail.

9:00 – Emergency Plus Four
This was the second season of the animated version of the hit show Emergency. Unlike most cartoons of the day, this second season was actually full of new episodes.

9:30 – Run, Joe, Run
This was a live action combination between “Lassie”, and “The Fugitive”. Joe is a German Shepherd who was falsely accused for attacking his master and was sentenced to euthanasia.  Joe escapes before being put down and they put a $200 (Over a thousand in today’s money) bounty out for him. Arch Whiting played Sgt. William Corey who believed Joe was innocent and spends the whole first season trying to get to Joe before the authorities. Meanwhile Joe of course helps many strangers while on the run.

10:00 – Land of the Lost
This brand new show marks a departure of sorts for Sid & Marty Krofft. In this series they leave slapstick comedy behind and try their hand at science fiction. Rick Marshall (Spencer Milligan), and his kids, Will (Wesley Eure) and Holly (Kathy Coleman) are rafting when they are plunged into a world of claymation dinosaurs, Pakuni (odd prehistoric furry people), and the Sleestak (lizard like people).  They spend the series trying to find their way home while navigating the dangers of this strange prehistoric looking land.

10:30 –Sigmund and the Sea Monsters
The second season of Sid & Marty Krofft’s story of a kid who befriends a sea monster who refuses to scare people like the rest of his family.

11:00 – Pink Panther
The sixth season of the very successful DePatie-Freleng show featuring shorts from the title character and The Ant and The Aardvark, The Inspector, The Tijuana Toads, and others.

11:30 – Star Trek
The second season of Filmation’s animated version of the iconic science fiction show.

12:00 – Jetsons
Reruns of the classic series which now had become one of a very few shows (the Monkees being another) to be broadcast on all three networks.

12:30 – Go
The second season of the program that explored various occupations like a symphony conductor, race car driver, or rodeo performer.

As far as new cereals introduced in 1974, they were not nearly as successful as some of the new programming.

Ooo Bopperoos/Fruit Brute/C.W.Post/Magic Puffs

From Nabisco we were given Ooo Bopperoos with a sunglasses wearing blue kangaroo playing a standup bass as its mascot. How could that miss? If you have a mint copy of one of those boxes, hold on to it. It just may be your retirement. They are considered quite rare by collectors.

Post gave us C.W.Post which was obviously not marketed towards kids. As a granola cereal it looked a little too healthy to attract a kid’s attention.

General Mills brought forth Magic Puffs.  This was a crunchy frosted cereal with a magic hat as its mascot. From the name it sounds like it could have been popular with stoners.

Lastly, also from General Mills we were given Fruit Brute to add to the collection of monster cereals. Unfortunately Fruit Brute didn’t last too terribly long but thanks to YouTube we still have the commercials and every once in awhile they’ll bring this guy back for Halloween. You can also get a nice vintage flat box of Frute Brute in mint condition on ebay for $5,500 as I write this. Free shipping too, sounds like a deal!

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